May 1, 2012

FDAs OTC Proposal – Bad for Patients

I hate to admit this, but did I miss something in the discussion of FDAs new over the counter drugs (OTC). Thank goodness, one doctor kept things in perspective and really exposed the true purpose. Most of us were looking at the advisability of doing this and the dangers in people self-prescribing drugs and the problems this would cause. This is still a valid concern, but pales in comparison to what this doctor exposes.

Dr. Matthew Mintz in his blog Dr. Mintz' Blog blows the lid off and does state the obvious quite well in fact. We as patients should be afraid and if this goes through, our costs for medications will go through the proverbial roof and keep on going up. Dr. Mintz points to the fact that insurance will no longer cover a drug that becomes OTC. Therefore, if you only had a small copay, now the cost will be 100 percent.  Take time to read his blog.

This is the technique of the current administration to reduce medical costs, but not for the consumer. By not having to see a doctor to get your prescription, that is the first cost savings for both the insurance companies and Medicare/Medicaid. It will be less costly to pay a pharmacist to advise you which may be the best medicine, but the entire cost will be on you. If the medication is normally $100 for a 30-day supply of pills, that is what you will pay to get the medication. Currently you might have a 20 percent copay and $80 would be covered by insurance.

The interesting fact is that many branded blood pressure, asthma, cholesterol, and diabetes medications will not be any cheaper just because the become over the counter medications. It is just that you, as the consumer will now pay the entire amount like the people without insurance. The insurance companies will not cover over the counter medications so this is one cost they will not have to be responsible for.

The government carefully kept this out of the press and is moving faster than the FDA normally does to slide this through. So be prepared and afraid for your pocket book in the near future if this does get the final approval. Most medical professions did not comment on this at all and the pharmacists were in favor of this action. The patients were not represented and we will be the ones paying the higher medication costs. The government will proclaim how they have been able to cut medical costs and expect you to vote for them in November.

You may not be able to vote if you spend all your money for over the counter medications and have nothing left for the high cost of fuel to get you to the voting booth. Go ahead and laugh, but come November, this may be what happened. This is what the current administration is counting on.

What I find amusing is the proposed use of kiosks. "For example, kiosks or other technological aids in pharmacies or on the Internet could lead consumers through an algorithm for a particular drug product."

Can you just imagine patients going up to an ATM-like machine, entering their conditions, allergies, blood levels, etc. and having the computer spit out exactly what dose of what medicine that they should be taking for their high blood pressure or high cholesterol?  Would there be a soda-like machine right beside it that could dispense the appropriate medication?”

If you think pharmacies are crowded now with very little privacy, what will a bank of kiosks do for the space. There will be kids wanting to punch buttons just for the fun of it. With all this more, how long will the electronics be functioning? This is one place I will want to avoid if at all possible.

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